Cafe du Monde

Contributors

Café du Monde stands as one of the oldest landmarks in New Orleans with its 150th anniversary next spring. The original coffee shop was founded in 1862 on Decatur Street across from Jackson Square. Café du Monde is open 24 hours a day, every day with the exception of Christmas Day and when the city is threatened by particularly severe hurricanes. The café is famous for its café au lait and delicious beignets.

History

Café du Monde was founded by Fred Koeniger in 1862. Hubert Fernandez purchased the coffee stand in May of 1942 and the business has remained in his family since. [1] At the time of purchase, Fernandez owned the Fernandez Wine Cellar across the street in the Pontalba Apartment Building. In 1972, the family closed the cellar in order to focus all their time and attention on the coffee stand. [2] Café du Monde has been a family-run business since the change of ownership in 1942. After the passing of Hubert Fernandez, his widow, June Fernandez, along with his sister Leonors Schwarz, and two daughters, Slvia Maher and Cynthia Roman, took over running the corporation. The spouse’s of these three women: Wilbur Schwaz, Bob Maher and Harry Roman now serve as the main officers of the corporation. [3]

Café du Monde is very popular and successful today, but there was a period of time in the 1970s where it did not seem the coffee stand would survive. Around this time, the French Market Corp. set up a renovating project to upgrade buildings in the French Market to help raise tourism revenue. The project cost the Fernandez company about $250,000 in renovations in order to stay in business. These upgrades included the construction of a slate pedestrian sidewalk, a new sign, the change from the striped awning to a larger, more weatherproof portico and a new fountain. [4]

Expansion

For the first 123 years of its existence, the French Market location served as the only existing Café du Monde. Then in 1985, the second one opened in Esplanade Mall in the outskirts of New Orleans. Soon after, others were established in the Lakeside Mall, the Riverwalk and in Mandeville. [5] In July of 1992, Georgia became the first state to open a Café du Monde “on American soil outside Louisiana.” [6] In 1990, Café du Monde was franchised by a company named Duskin. Over the past 22 years, the Japanese Café du Monde franchise has been extremely successful with the Ikebukuro store celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2012. There are now a total of 20 Japanese stores in cities such as Tokyo, Osaka and Hiroshima. [7] Presently there are 26 Café du Monde units in Japan and 8 throughout New Orleans. [8]

Menu

In most of the stores the sole food item on the menu is the infamous beignet. The beignet can be compared to a doughnut. It is a square-shaped piece of fried dough topped off with powdered sugar. The store is also known for its café au lait made with dark coffee and chicory. Japan was the first to try out soft drinks, and after their success in the 1980s, soft drinks and iced coffees became a permanent part of the menu. [9] The Japanese franchise has made other additions to the original menu. They serve varying types of beignets like cinnamon and ice cream, as well as, hot dogs, frozen drinks and seasonal desserts. [10] In addition to owning and maintaining the cafes, the H.N. Fernandez Inc. also sells its coffee in food stores. [11]

Closings

There have been only a select few instances that have forced Café du Monde to close. In 2001, a fire broke out in the kitchen and caused only minor damage to the building. Before being evacuated by firefighters, the staff was able to grab some of the old pictures and posters from the walls. The blaze forced the coffee shop to close for almost a week. [12] Café du Monde was forced to close for a full seven weeks in 2005 due to the infamous Hurricane Katrina. The hurricane knocked out the power and water to the building as well as relocated many of the staff members. The owners took advantage of the forced closing and used this time to install new kitchen appliances and clean the place up. [13]

Works Cited

  • “Fernandez Family History.” Cafe du Monde. (2011): n. page. Web. 31 Oct. 2011. .
  • “Fernandez Family History.” Cafe du Monde. (2011): n. page. Web. 31 Oct. 2011. .
  • BOURG, GENE. “EXPANSIONS OF THE LITTLE COFFEE STAND THAT COULD.” Times-Picayune. (1992): n. page. Web. 27 Oct. 2011.
  • BOURG, GENE. “EXPANSIONS OF THE LITTLE COFFEE STAND THAT COULD.” Times-Picayune. (1992): n. page. Web. 27 Oct. 2011.
  • Morales, Daniel. “Café Du Monde Abroad-Beignets in Japan.” Untapped New Orleans. (2011): n. page. Web. 30 Oct. 2011. .
  • BOURG, GENE. “EXPANSIONS OF THE LITTLE COFFEE STAND THAT COULD.” Times-Picayune. (1992): n. page. Web. 27 Oct. 2011.
  • Morales, Daniel. “Café Du Monde Abroad-Beignets in Japan.” Untapped New Orleans. (2011): n. page. Web. 30 Oct. 2011. .
  • “Café Du Monde – New Orleans.” Nation’s Restaurant News. (2010): n. page. Web. 30 Oct. 2011. .
  • “Café Du Monde – New Orleans.” Nation’s Restaurant News. (2010): n. page. Web. 30 Oct. 2011. .
  • Morales, Daniel. “Café Du Monde Abroad-Beignets in Japan.” Untapped New Orleans. (2011): n. page. Web. 30 Oct. 2011. .
  • BOURG, GENE. “EXPANSIONS OF THE LITTLE COFFEE STAND THAT COULD.” Times-Picayune. (1992): n. page. Web. 27 Oct. 2011.
  • Pompilio, Natalie . “Blaze at Cafe du Monde disrupts life in the Quarter – Damage to building closes landmark 5 days .” Times-Picayune. (2001): n. page. Web. 26 Oct. 2011.
  • “Beignets Are Back!.” New Orleans French Quarter. N.p., 13 october 2005. Web. 27 Nov 2011. .

This page was last modified on 27 April 2012, at 01:51

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Café du Monde

800 Decatur Street New Orleans, LA